Monday, March 25, 2013

In which Anonymus Maximus talks about Awareness and Acceptance and Racism and Hell on Earth.

A couple of days ago me and some friends [Wait, friends? I thought you were-] were talking about traveling, and airports in particular.

I have a long-standing claim that Hell is Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport [Which started as straight up echolalia from an episode of God Almighty with Hugh Laurie. It's been a couple of years since that now, so it has been modified, but the structure is still the same.*] and it's only gotten worse with the changes in security measures. (And then Gatwick went and decided that they were gonna -automate- the security procedure, which means that Gatwick is now almost as bad as Heathrow.) And talking about flying and Airports and that I was going to the UK next week, this came up.
This made the conversation veer off into invasive-security-searches and racial profiling, in which an aquaintance stated that he didn't mind invasive security searches so long as the airports didn't pretend they were random. As in, he was okay with casual racism provided that the security officials admitted that what they were doing was casual racism. (Although, I'm not sure he was aware of this. He wanted them to be honest about targeting middle easterners for looking like mulims and terrorists and whatnot, and it not being random. If he realised that this is in fact racism is an open question.)

And to say that this irks me a little bit is to be understating it. Both for the racism reason and for the personal reason. I am incapable of getting through an airport (any airport, thus far) with my oral speech intact.
And I move in the way I move, talk the way I talk, communicate the way I communicate. And thus, I am targeted by the same security personel, who think that the way I move is suspicious. The way I talk is suspicious. That I can't always talk to them is suspicious. That I reach for my wallet to get my communication cards is suspicious. I fear for the day I am deemed dangerous.
See, my cards can ask people to slow down, to give me a minute to formulate a response, to provide a pen and paper so that I can write, to please repeat what they were saying as I didn't catch it the first time around [It's not that I can't hear, it's that I hear everything, and then my auditory processing shuts down. There is a reason I think airports are hell.], but they can't stop people from asking where my keeper or caregiver are, they can't impart an immediate understanding of what autism means unto a security official that has already decided that I am suspicous and potentially dangerous and up to no good, they can't make a person -accept- that I need to type, they can't convince someone who thinks I am being contrary that I can't hear what they are saying, that it's not that I won't - it's that I can't.
And here was my friend, saying that targeting people based on prejudice is okay and nothing to get upset about, as long as they were honest about what behaviours and looks and needs would be targeted. I just have to accept to get the 'random' spot-checks because I can't remember the right script to answer the "do you have liquids in your carry-on?". Every time I'm asked this question, I look around, harrumph to myself before catching the fact that I need to say "No.". And this makes me suspicious, despite the fact that they can -see- on the godamn scanner that there are in fact no liquids in my bag. And that is the nice and mild type of targeting of my behaviours at the airport, an environment in which I am on the verge of melting down from luggage drop onwards. Imagine what would happen if I DID melt down. I fear it.
And this is also why I fear Autism Awareness efforts. Because when I hand over the "Autistic" card I need the reaction to be a greater respect for my communications issues, not more fear because everyone knows that people with autism are randomly violent. The first of those is autism acceptance, the second is autism awareness.
Being -aware- of autism means listening to harmful, faulty rhetorics about this disability.
Accepting it means that you realise that not everyone works the same way.
It's not all that difficult.

*I'm not sure people always realise what it means when I say my speech is highly echolalic. This particular episode contains so many phrases I've used for years now. But, point is, when I start out a new phrase, I'm not just repeating it. I'm using the same inflection and stresses as the person who said it first did. It takes time for me to modify phrases.